Under Your Skin
Emily Bestler Books/Atria Books, April 2015
In the pre-dawn hours, Gaby Mortimer, a successful 42-year-old “presenter” on a popular mid-morning current affairs tv show, is taking her usual run through the woods near her home near London when she comes upon the dead body of a young woman. And her life will never be the same. (I should add here that the author had my rapt attention within those first few pages.)
Gaby immediately calls the police, and they soon arrive at the scene: PC Morrow, a woman who “looks about twelve . . . small and freckly,” and DI Perivale, of the CID. Till now, Gaby has led what many would call a charmed life: a successful career, married to a man she loves (although the marriage has fallen into a somewhat imperfect state of late) and an eight-year-old daughter she adores. But all of that is threatened as Perivale seems to focus on Gaby when some evidence seems to point to her not as the horrified witness to a gruesome murder, but as a suspect, and her nightmare begins.
The book is wonderful well-written and –plotted, and I can say no more for fear of giving anything away. Suffice it to say that the conclusion is totally unexpected, and the twists and turns of plot are nothing less than stunning. I must admit that I had to put the book down briefly when I came within about 20 pages of the ending: An instance of delayed gratification, as I couldn’t imagine what was coming next, and didn’t want the book to end.
Reviewed by Gloria Feit, April 2015.
William Kent Krueger
Atria Books, May 2015
When the body of a 14-year-old Ojibwe girl washes up on Windigo Island, a rocky outcrop on Lake Superior, Cork O’Connor and his daughter, Jenny, embark on a crusade to rescue another teenager, Mariah, who had run away from home with her, ending up as prostitutes in Duluth, pimped by a man known, strangely enough, as Windigo. The windigo is a mythical beast thought to rip hearts out of bodies and eat them, or a vengeful spirit called Michi Peshu, according to Ojibwe lore.
With the help of Mariah’s cousin, a game warden, her mother, and Henry Meloux, Cork and Jenny follow a thin trail to find the girl with little help from other victims of the pimps who are virtually brainwashed and refuse to talk, or a very few others. What follows is an exciting investigation that leads to the uncovering of an extensive sex trafficking ring, many of whose victims are Native Americans steeped in poverty and abuse, especially in the Duluth and Twin Cities areas.
The novel graphically portrays the squalid cycle of poverty, abuse, alcoholism and runaway children on the reservations and the men who prey on them. Once again, the author has the opportunity to demonstrate a deep empathy for the Ojibwe, their values and traditions, as well as describing his love of the North Woods. All this and one of the most exciting finishes recently read by this reviewer.
Reviewed by Ted Feit, May 2015.